Benriach Single Malt Scotch Whisky has announced the second releases of Malting Season and Smoke Season. These two annual expressions reflect traditional methods of whisky-making, dating back to the earliest days of the Speyside distillery.
In a nod to Benriach’s mothballed history, when it remained operational for floor malting and producing peated whiskies for other distilleries, these releases reflect those practices that occur once per year.
For this year’s Benriach Malting Season edition, Master Blender Rachel Barrie selected Concerto barley (same as first edition), and slightly increased the barrel strength — resulting in a slightly different flavor profile.
The floor malting method is a process requiring a team of craftspeople. After steeping in water, the barley is spread across the malting room floor and turned by hand over several days to allow for germination of the barley.
The result is a whisky with a nose of malt sweetness with barley sugar and mandarin covered in white chocolate, the company reports. The palate is honeycomb infused with citrus and orchard apple, before a finish of fruit, malt and vanilla cream.
Benriach Malting Season 2022 is 48.9% ABV. It retails for a suggested price of $159.99 per 700-ml. bottle.
Benriach Smoke Season is a small batch release that showcases one of the distillery’s seasonal production techniques, where peated spirit runs through its stills. The spirit is the result of 100% peated malt, batch-distilled and matured in first fill bourbon barrels, combined with a high proportion of charred and toasted American virgin oak casks.
While smoky whiskies are not traditionally associated with Speyside, Benriach’s archives indicate that heavily peated single malts were the preferred palate of the region in the 19th century, the company says.
The recipe for the second edition remains the same as the first. It contains Highland peat, sourced from the mainland and derived from trees and heather: far from the majority of peat sourced near the sea on the West Coast and Islay.
On the nose is barbecue smoked fruit in a pine forest, the company reports, with caramel smoke and cinnamon-spiced roasted apple on the palate. The finish brings charred orange peel and hickory.
Benriach Smoke Season 2022 is 52.8% ABV, with a suggested retail price of $77.99 per 750-ml. bottle.
“Passed from distiller to distiller throughout the generations, the floor malting process keeps a traditional part of the whisky-making process alive with Benriach,” says Barrie. “Meanwhile Smoke Season is a special time of year in the distillery’s calendar, and these annual releases give both the whisky novice and connoisseur the opportunity to discover the uniquely rich, sweet and smoky character of our Speyside single malt. At Benriach, we never stop exploring how fruit, oak, barley and smoke aromatics intertwine and mature in our broad range of eclectic casks.”